Saturday, 10 April 2010

Capturing an experience

I read a fascinating post over at Andrew Shield's blog the other day, in which he discusses Robin Robertson's poem, My Girls, from his collection titled The Wrecking Light.

Shields recognises the poem's dexterity at capturing a feeling and experience, yet feels it doesn't become an experience in itself, not seeing this as a defect but as a feature that identifies and distinguishes the piece from many others. I agree with him. In fact, this quality makes it unusual in Robertson's body of work.

What's more, I'm aware that I enjoyed My Girls far more than most of Robertson's poetry. I feel this is because in this poem he achieves something that is also my aim when I write: the depiction of an immediately recognisable experience in a specific and innovative way, thus enabling the reader to find a new insight into their own feelings.

Shields also makes a final, extremely interesting point in the light of my previous remarks: he feels that this kind of poetry is not liked by many contemporary poets or readers of poetry. I'm sure he's right, and would argue that it's fashionable to view such writing as unambitious.

I'm actually convinced that the opposite is true: capturing and transforming an event in this way demands incredible skill. Innovation becomes far more demanding yet also rewarding within the bounds of simplicity. I struggle to manage this every time I sit down to write poetry.

1 comment:

  1. Just saw your comment on my post today! Glad you enjoyed it.

    I often try to "just" capture an experience in a poem, even if only for myself (as a way of remembering the experience). Sometimes, such poems seem to be the ones others respond to most ...